49ers to assess whether Aldon Smith plays

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Aldon Smith had his first full practice Wednesday since returning to the San Francisco 49ers after spending five weeks in a treatment center.

The big question is whether Smith will play Sunday against Carolina. The 49ers are 5-0 without Smith. However, they have had just five sacks in the past four games. They had seven sacks when Smith played. He accounted for 4.5 of those.

Still, don't expect much clarity on whether Smith will play. Smith said Tuesday the idea of playing Sunday was crossing his mind. On Wednesday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said it would be a football decision. Thus, it will be based on whether Smith is ready to play after missing five weeks.

"We'll assess that," Harbaugh said about Smith's availability. It's been clear, and Aldon has been too, that this is a thing that's being taken day-by-day."

Harbaugh did say Smith looked like he is ready to play and he's happy the 24-year-old is back.

My guess? Barring an unexpected setback I think we'll see him some, at least, on passing downs. He's been deemed ready to play football, so I'd doubt he'd be a spectator.

ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha believes Smith will make a big impact down the stretch.