Smith: 'I should be right on schedule'
Justin Smith is entering his 13th NFL season and sixth with the 49ers. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SANTA CLARA -- Defensive lineman Justin Smith is already the best long-term 49ers free agent signing in club history.
And he says he has not thought beyond the final year of the six-year, $45 million contract he signed with the 49ers in 2008.
"You really can't forecast anything out past the year you're in," Smith said on Wednesday in his first public remarks since the Super Bowl and offseason triceps surgery. "So I'm thinking about 2013, and 2013 only."
"At this point in my career, nothing's a given, nothing's a guarantee. They don't like old guys, anyway, for football. I'm going to enjoy this year and do the best I can this year and hopefully it's enough for us and the team and we get it done."
The 49ers' Super Bowl hopes last season were derailed, in part, due to the partially torn left triceps tendon that kept Smith out of the final 2 1/2 regular-season games and limited his effectiveness in the playoffs.
Smith underwent surgery shortly after the 49ers' loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. Two weeks ago, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh reported that Smith is back bench-pressing 350 pounds.
"I thought it went pretty well," Smith said of the rehabilitation. "(They) went in and repaired it, this and that, and the strength came back pretty good, almost 100 percent.
"(We) still have six more weeks (until training camp), so should be right on schedule."
Smith said he is about a month from getting as strong as possible. He has not participated in any on-field work during the 49ers' offseason. But when asked if he his arm is in good enough shape to play a game right now, Smith answered, "Oh, yeah, I'd be good to go."
Smith, 33, a 12-year veteran had never participated in an NFL playoff victory before the 49ers reached the NFC Championship at the end of the 2011 season. Last offseason, he preached to his teammates that their window would not remain open for much longer.
Now, his mantra includes a variation on the same theme.
"It's a lot like the year before, getting to the NFC Championship game," he said. "This one, we were right there. It's really disappointing. You can either let that tear you down mentally, as a team, or build you up. I think we're taking the build-you-up approach, and we're realizing what needs to be done to get there. Now we know even more what it takes to win."
Smith said the injury he sustained last season has reinforced the perspective that he has a limited number of years to play the game. That is why he is taking his career one year at a time, he said.
"You realize it can be taken from you at any time," he said. "I hadn't been hurt for 12 years prior, always look at a guy who's hurt and say, 'Oh, come on.' But you realize what that side of it's like and realize what those guys are coming through."