Patriots QB Tom Brady has been complemented by RB Stevan Ridley this season. (AP Images)

In the past, preparing for the New England Patriots meant preparing for a dynamic passing offense led QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker and whatever smorgasbord of other weapons the team might of had -- Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, the list goes on.

The evolution process this year is geared more toward a run-pass balance, while maintaing an up-tempo, no-huddle style. It adds up to few hours of sleep for coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers coaching staff.

"They’ve got a good system for it and they do a real good job with it," Harbaugh said. "Can’t think of another team that’s better at it.”

He was talking about the Patriots' tempo, not their ability to keep him up at night, but it works for both.

RB Stevan Ridley actually has more rushing yards this year (1,082) than 49ers workhorse Frank Gore (1,035), although he's done it on 34 more carries. Ridley's been good but hasn't seen a defense as stout against the run as San Francisco, which allows just 3.6 yards per carry -- the second-best mark in the NFL.

That stat isn't lost on Belichick, who, when asked what stood out about the 49ers, quickly pointed out that they "average almost two yards a carry more than they give up, which is pretty impressive."

Over their last six games, the Patriots have scored at least 37 points five times, including Monday night's 42-14 win against Houston, which came in with the NFL's best record.

Former Patriots WR and current 49er Randy Moss said he still has a lot of respect for the team he played for in parts of four seasons and realizes the challenge San Francisco has in front of it.

"They put 40-something points up and really embarrassed them," Moss said of Houston. "So I don't think we want to be that team and get embarrassed on national television."

If the 49ers were to win, it'd be the first for an opposing team in Foxborough, Mass., since 2002 and would stamp San Francisco as the Super Bowl favorite, the anti-embarrassment.

James gives thumbs up to Kelly as NFL coach: A lot has been written in recent weeks about Oregon coach Chip Kelly as a candidate for potential NFL coaching openings. 49ers RB LaMichael James said his former coach could make the transition.

"I think it'd be good. It depends if they want to run or not," James said. "As far as the offensive scheme, I think it'll work in the NFL."

Outside of scheme, James thinks Kelly would have no trouble adapting to the other aspects of professional football.

"I think he'd be just fine," James said. "He's a great coach. He does things the right way. The players and everybody will adapt to him."

Kelly was 2-1 in head-to-head meetings against Harbaugh when he was the coach at Stanford.

Harbaugh mum on Jacobs' suspension: Harbaugh refrained from commenting on the suspension of RB Brandon Jacobs.

“The league has a process when you suspend a player that you go through," he said. "So you’re really not in a position to be talking about that. We’ll let that work its way through the system. In terms of why or how we felt, our actions can speak for themselves there.”

Jacobs is officially suspended for the remainder of the regular season, but his locker was given to newly signed LB Eric Bakhtiari.

Welker look-alike: Practice squad WR Chad Hall was wearing Welker's No. 83 and mimicking him on the scout team Wednesday. At 5-8, 187 pounds, he passes a striking resemblance to Welker (5-9, 185) in uniform. Like Welker at Texas Tech, Hall began his college career as a running back at the Air Force Academy before moving to receiver.

Injury report: After missing Sunday's game against Miami, WR Mario Manningham (shoulder) was one of four limited practice participants Wednesday. Joining him in black, non-contact jerseys were LB Tavares Gooden, (ribs), FB Bruce Miller (shoulder) and LB Aldon Smith (shoulder).

Also listed on the injury report, but as full practice participants were: K David Akers (pelvis), LB NaVorro Bowman (shoulder), CB Tarell Brown (shoulder), CB Chris Culliver (knee), RB Frank Gore (wrist), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), DT Will Tukuafu (wrist) and LB Patrick Willis (shoulder).

Follow 49ers reporter Kyle Bonagura on Twitter @CBS49ers and @KyleBonagura.