Antoine Bethea picks off Peyton Manning, Colin Kaepernick throws a TD

The big plays of the San Francisco 49ers’ first of two joint practices with the Denver Broncos in Colorado on Wednesday?

Strong safety Antoine Bethea picked off former Indianapolis Colts teammate and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit tight end Garrett Celek with a touchdown pass.

“I’ve got some picks off of him, but I can’t say I have a count on them,” Bethea said sheepishly. Bethea and Manning were teammates for six years in Indianapolis so, yeah, Bethea has practice experience against Manning.

“We’re just out there working hard, having fun,” Bethea said. “Last period of the day, just trying to hurry up and get off the field. We always say if we get a pick-six, we get off the field quick. Glad to make that happen.”

Bethea was asked to describe the play.

“I think he probably thought we were in a different coverage,” Bethea said of Manning. “I was able to get under [the receiver]. Good play, good read.”

Manning, meanwhile, was not asked about the play. Rather, he was asked about NaVorro Bowman returning after a year off.

“Obviously, he played a little bit against Dallas last week and he looked good in his limited time there,” Manning said of Bowman, who had three tackles, including two for a loss, in three snaps.

“He’s an outstanding football player that has overcome a serious injury. I have a lot of respect for him being out there. There are a lot of physical challenges overcoming that kind of injury. I can just only imagine how much work he’s put in to get back out there. I always pull for guys when they get injured ... guys that put that time in, work hard, rehab and get back out there. I wish him the best.”

The Niners offense, though, was without backup tight end Vance McDonald, who was reportedly seen wearing a walking boot on his injured ankle suffered against the Cowboys.

It was also in the last period of the day when Kaepernick connected with Celek.

“Yeah, that was good,” Kaepernick said. “I thought it was huge because the play before, [Celek] had jumped offsides [but] came back and made a huge play for our offense.

“So, I think mentally, just the focus he had to come back and make a big play like that is big for us.”

The teams were not in full pads as they played in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts. No fights broke out.

“I think when you get to see what happened today, I think that’s awesome,” said Niners coach Jim Tomsula. “I think that’s, to me, I would take that tape and say, ‘That’s what you would want this to look like.’

“It was two teams, a bunch of professional athletes out there, working like crazy against each other, competing and having fun and going about their business. I thought it was tremendous by both teams.”

The Niners were without McDonald, fullback Bruce Miller (personal reason), inside linebacker Desmond Bishop (hand), inside linebacker Philip Wheeler (leg) and safety Craig Dahl (back).