Justin Smith: 'I feel like I'll be ready'
Justin Smith: "You can't worry about it in the game, so try not to worry about it now and go on from there." (AP)
SANTA CLARA -- Defensive tackle Justin Smith does not need another MRI examination to gauge whether he'll be ready for the 49ers' first playoff game. He plans to play football and ask questions later.
Smith said any follow-up examination will take place at the conclusion of the season, when he'll likely require surgery to repair the triceps tendon in his left arm.
Smith, wearing a black brace on his left elbow, participate in limited practice Thursday for the first time since he sustained a partially torn tendon early in the second half of the 49ers' Dec. 16 game against the New England Patriots. Smith sat out the final two games of the regular season after his streak reached 185 consecutive regular-season starts.
"It was definitely different. But, it is what it is, and you go from there and if I'm fortunate enough get to play in this one and see what happens," he said.
Smith returned to practice nine days before the 49ers return to action. He said he fully expects to be on the field when the 49ers open the playoffs at Candlestick Park on Jan. 12 as the NFC's No. 2 seed.
"It felt good for what we did today," Smith said. "We'll go out there and see what happens."
Nobody knows how effectively Smith can be or how long he will be able to play. Even he has no idea what to expect. And he will not know until he steps on the field.
"We really haven’t played or done anything yet, so, you know, hopefully they'll run right at me and we'll find out quick and see how it goes," said Smith, who last week was chosen to his fourth consecutive NFC Pro Bowl team.
When asked if his ability to play is a matter of strength or pain tolerance, Smith said, "I think it's just a matter of getting out there and going. You just go out there and play until you can't and be ready. I feel like I'll be ready.
"I really wasn't trying to pay attention to it (in practice), honestly. You can't worry about it in the game, so try not to worry about it now and go on from there."