Jim Tomsula went into this season with at least one hand tied behind his back.
As the successor to Jim Harbaugh as head coach of the 49ers, it was going to be hard for him even in the best of circumstances. But there's been nothing "best" about the Niners' circumstances since the end of the 2014 season.
Injuries, free-agent defections, retirements and other assorted circumstances left many predicting a disappointing season for the 49ers in 2015 - and they've been correct.
Will Tomsula get a second chance in 2016 to show what he can do under perhaps better circumstances? So far, the 49ers aren't saying.
But certainly, nothing will prompt an exit for a coach like the appearance that his team has given up on him.
This week, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine made some remarks that implied that's exactly what he saw in the 49ers during their loss at Cleveland this past Sunday.
Pettine, in praising his team's attitude and effort in that victory - even though the Browns went into the game 2-10--cast some shade on the 49ers.
"Sunday's game, two teams in very similar situations," he said. "I thought you saw one team that wanted to be out there, wanted to compete and wanted to win a football game. I don't know that I sensed that same attitude from the other side."
Tomsula, of course, said nothing negative about his players' efforts against the Browns. At this point, he's still trying to get his 4-9 team ready to play the Bengals this Sunday at Levi's Stadium (1:25 p.m. kickoff).
In fact, just a week ago, San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Kevin Lynch had written a story outlining 10 reasons why the team should retain Tomsula and his staff for next season.
But certainly it can't be a good sign for Tomsula's future if other NFL coaches are saying his team may already have given up on a head coach who may be looking more and more like a lame duck.