“Making sure this doesn’t happen again,” Smith said on Tuesday afternoon.
The 49ers outside linebacker, who was activated to the 53-man roster on Thursday, practiced on Tuesday. He addressed the media for the first time since leaving the team after two days after his Sept. 20 arrest. He revealed that he returned from out of state on Oct. 28.
"It’s been a process since I left," Smith said in front of his locker stall. "I’m getting there. Every day is a step closer to where I want to be.
"I’ve gotten a lot of support, from my family, friends, the organization, teammates and everything. It really says a lot that people care about me outside the field, that they care about me as a person... We could all look into our lives and find something that we need to work on. I’ve taken my time and I’ve done that."
PHOTOS: Smith Back At Practice
Smith leads the team with 4.5 sacks despite not playing in the team's current five-game winning streak.
"Of course I didn’t want to be away from the sport I love, but it was good for me to get my mind together and work, to get to the positive spot I want to be at it," Smith said.
Beyond his off-the field focuses -- he also spoke of fathering his 10-month old son -- Smith said his on-the-field aims remained high.
"Maximize my potential. I have a lot of things I can do. And a lot of goals I want to reach," he said. "Taking those steps to where I want to be is a goal of mine."
Smith said he saw some of the 49ers games while he was away from the team. He also said he as able to "get a real good workout in a couple of days a week" during his time away from the team. Fellow outside linebacker
"It’s crossing my mind," he said of the prospect of playing. "I’m taking it one day at a time, getting back here being around the guys."
As for his five-tackle performance in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts, two days after Smith's arrest and immediately before he left the team, he has no regrets about playing.
“I don’t call those shots," he said. "Any time I’m able to play, I’m going to play."
That said, Smith has clearly restored a balance to his life. At 24, the third-year pro said he needed just that.
“I’ve grown a lot and I’m still growing,” Smith said. “I came into the league on the young side of things, and I’ve just taken every free chance I’ve gotten to get better and grow.
“Being away from my teammates and the guys here in the locker room was difficult, but it worked out. I was able to get away and clear my head.”