SANTA CLARA -- Justin Smith reported no setbacks Wednesday regarding his return to action with a partially torn triceps tendon. Nor is Smith concerned about worsening the injury when the 49ers play for the NFC Championship on Sunday in Atlanta.

Smith is wearing a black brace on his left arm to enhance his return from an injury that sidelined him the final 2 ½ games of the regular season.

"It's a love-hate relationship right now," Smith said of the brace. "It's doing its job. It felt pretty strong."

Smith didn't pay too much attention to shopping for that assistance and instead left it up to the 49ers' medical staff.

"I just slapped it on there," Smith said. "I figured they'd put me in the best one they could and it's done its job."

San Francisco 49ers’ Justin Smith (94) high-fives teammates during their game against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter for the NFC
San Francisco 49ers' Justin Smith (94) high-fives teammates during their game against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter for the NFC divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

The 49ers defense did its job in locking down the Green Bay Packers after halftime last Saturday night to secure a 45-31 victory. Smith sensed a different atmosphere following that win as compared to a year ago, when the 49ers' opened the playoffs with a riveting win over the New Orleans Saints.

"I didn't feel the same 'Oh we did it' after the Packers game, and we beat a heck of a team in the Packers," Smith said. "The whole team senses there's more to it than that game (Saturday). We're better prepared to handle it and know what's in front of it."

This week's preparation includes studying up on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who passed for 4,719 yards with 32 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.