SANTA CLARA -- Linebacker Aldon Smith looked in his natural element Thursday, suiting up in a No. 99 jersey and menacing quarterbacks on the 49ers practice field.

It's a stark contrast from last Friday's courtroom scene, where he apologized for his off-field actions and subsequently drew a light sentence (12 days of work release, three years probation) for weapon-possession and drunken-driving convictions.

"I'm in the best shape I've been in coming into a camp, and my mind is probably in the best spot it's been in, so I'm feeling great," Smith said before training camp's first full-squad practice.

Smith credits his positive health in part to his sobriety -- which he claims to have maintained since a Sept. 20 drunken-driving accident -- and offseason workouts that boosted his stamina, power and technique.

At some point in the "near future," Smith said he'll leave 49ers camp to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding potential discipline. No firm date has been set, Smith said; one option could be during the 49ers' trip in two weeks to Baltimore.

"That's in their hands," coach Jim Harbaugh said of a potential suspension, which figures to range from two to six games, based on recent history. "They will discipline if they feel he warrants it."

Arguably the league's premier pass rusher since his 2011 rookie season, Smith concedes his off-field troubles have resulted in a growing process.

"I'm in a better spot than I have been," said Smith, who has totaled 42 sacks in 43 regular-season games. "You go through things in life, and you learn a lot. I've learned a lot from my mistakes and grown from them."


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"He's going through a process, which is accounting for some mistakes made," Harbaugh added. "He's been given an opportunity to do what he says he's going to do, and so far he's doing that."

The 49ers have stood firmly behind Smith since his single-car accident last September in San Jose's Silver Creek neighborhood, resulting in his drunken-driving arrest. Smith played two days later against the Indianapolis Colts before checking himself into a treatment center and missing the 49ers' next five games.

"It's good to be back on the field," said Smith, who later intercepted a Colin Kaepernick pass in practice. "I'm doing something I love and something I enjoy, being around my teammates and everybody around here."

  • Tight end Vernon Davis said he's turned over his contract situation to his agent and shifted his focus toward helping the 49ers win a Super Bowl.

    "It was a very easy decision," Davis said of returning from on offseason holdout. "All you have to do is think about the team. That's what I did. I thought about my teammates, especially some of the guys like Frank Gore and the guys that are on the last year of their contracts, guys who I love, would die for. There's nothing like being here."

    Davis is signed through the 2015 season. He said the 49ers indeed have fined him for his offseason absence, which presumably cost him a $200,000 workout bonus and nearly $70,000 for a minicamp boycott.

  • Harbaugh declined to discuss right guard Alex Boone's contract holdout, which exposes Boone to a $30,000 fine each day of camp he misses. Joe Looney and Adam Snyder continue to rotate at right guard in Boone's absence.

  • Rookie Jimmie Ward, the 49ers' first-round draft pick, intercepted a Kaepernick pass that cornerback Chris Cook tipped before it could reach Stevie Johnson. "It was a good first day," Ward said. "If I keep making plays like that, maybe I'll be seen, and hopefully I'll get some playing time."

  • Defensive tackle Justin Smith and right tackle Anthony Davis didn't practice. Both are recovering from offseason shoulder surgeries on their labrums.

  • Cornerback Chris Culliver saw some snaps on the first-string defense in his first full-squad drills since last training camp's knee injury. Culliver appeared to jam his left thumb in warm-ups but continued to practice.

  • Marcus Lattimore is on the non-football-injury list for precautionary reasons because of what Harbaugh called a "combination" of knee and hamstring concerns. Lattimore performed individual conditioning drills well on a side field during practice.

  • MRI results are pending on tight end Garrett Celek's back, Harbaugh said.

  • Center Marcus Martin and wideout Bruce Ellington, two of the 49ers' most promising rookies, are recovering from minor ankle injuries.

    For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.