SANTA CLARA — Justin Smith is "almost 100 percent" recovered from a triceps injury that hindered the 49ers' defense late last season, and Smith even talked about his four-month rehabilitation in the past tense Wednesday.
"I thought it went pretty well," Smith said after minicamp practice. "They went in, repaired it. The strength and everything came back pretty good."
Smith's streak of 185 consecutive starts ended once he partially tore the triceps in his left arm. That sidelined him the final two regular-season games, and he struggled to regain form upon his return for the playoffs and eventual Super Bowl defeat.
With the 49ers concluding their offseason program Thursday, Smith's participation has not involved any team activities but rather weight-room work and individual conditioning.
"I'm real close, feel good about it," Smith added. "Still have about six more weeks (until training camp), so I should be right on schedule. ... You just want to be back to 100 percent, at your all-time best whatever you feel strength-wise. I'm probably about a month off from that."
Coach Jim Harbaugh said "everything is on schedule" for Smith's training camp return, adding: "He's been a great football player for this team. He's one of the team leaders and at the top of his profession."
Smith is entering the final year of his contract, with a $7.5 million base salary. He's previously talked about wanting to play a couple more years, but he fears that could be impacted more by the NFL's aversion to aging veterans rather than his recent injury.
"At my point in my career, nothing's a given, nothing's a guarantee," Smith said. "They don't like old guys anyway for football. So I'm going to enjoy this year, do the best I can this year and hopefully it's enough for us and the team and we'll get it done."
While Smith recovers physically from last season, he and his teammates are overcoming the mental hurdle associated with their 34-31 Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Ravens. It's a disappointing feeling he compared to the 2011 season's exit in the NFC Championship game.
"You can either let that tear you down mentally as a team or build you up," Smith said. "I think we're taking the build-you-up approach and realizing what needs to be done to get there. Now we know that much more what more it takes to win. That's our ultimate goal, and 31 other teams' as well."
To help Smith and Ray McDonald with their workload as the starting defensive tackles, the 49ers signed Glen Dorsey in free agency and used a second-round draft pick on Tank Carradine and a fifth-round choice on Quinton Dial, neither of whom have practiced yet because of knee and foot injuries, respectively.
Demarcus Dobbs and Will Tukuafu saw first-team snaps at defensive tackle while Smith and McDonald missed Tuesday's team drills.
"They have the pantry full. Now it's a matter of going out and producing," Smith said of his position group. "There's definitely some guys worthy of some more reps. Anytime you have that situation, you look into that.
"It keeps some other guys a little bit fresher. The whole goal is going out and winning, and playing the best defense you can, not necessarily who's getting the reps."