Revisiting 49ers' DL as Justin Smith returns

Justin Smith's participation in individual drills at practice Thursday is the strongest sign yet that the San Francisco 49ers' injured defensive lineman could play in the team's divisional-round playoff game Jan. 12.

Smith has a triceps injury. He wore an elbow brace Thursday.

The 49ers have adjusted their rotation along the defensive line since Smith suffered the injury during a Week 15 victory at New England. The chart shows snap counts for the 49ers' defensive linemen on a per-game basis since Week 14.

Participating in individual drills is a positive first step. The 49ers will monitor Smith to see how the injury responds to the work.

San Francisco 49ers Snaps by Defensive Linemen